Sunday, July 05, 2015

Hung: I can't say that the ROC exists

Hung isn't going to be on many local candidate billboards, but the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen is going to become very familiar.

Current KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu's Cross-Strait policy is a thing of joy to her opponents. Hung's foreign policy, she explained the other day, is that her One China, same interpretation means that the PRC recognizes the existence of the ROC. Then moments later she said that, well, that would mean a two state existence, which is incompatible with her foreign policy (story). She must be nuts, right?

But these are not "foreign policy statements" in the sense that ordinary people understand such things. Rather, they are True Believer affirmations. They are intelligible as "foreign policy" only in the way that then-President George Bush's famous comment to Chirac about going after Gog and Magog in the Middle East was (story). In other words, not at all to rational people who are not "insiders" who speak in the same coded language.

Another bizarre set of comments made the news this week...
Hung brought more controversy with her “one China, same interpretation” proposal when she said during an interview with Taiwan Television on Thursday night that the strategy was aimed at pressing China to recognize the existence of the “government” of the ROC, because “I can’t say that the ROC exists."
Many outsiders said that this put the DPP in the odd position of defending the existence of the ROC while Hung was denying it. Actually, neither was the case. The DPP was merely affirming the existence of the ROC as an administrative entity, while Hung? Hung was speaking to insiders, and outsiders be damned because after all they are the spawn of Satan...

For forty years in the 14th century, the Catholic Church was split in two, with two Popes and two colleges of cardinals, one in Rome and one in Avignon in France. Had anyone at the time remarked "The Catholic Church does not even exist!" everyone in Christendom would have known exactly what was meant. That's Hung.

Recall that the KMT is not a political party, but the political organization of a colonial ruling class. In a key sense, it's the political expression of the social identity of that ruling class. That's why the KMT is constantly spinning off new parties, on one side from the factions that support it at the local level, on the other, in schisms at the top driven by purity considerations, like the New Party. These more-Chinese-than-the-Chinese ROC bitter-enders are what is meant when local legislators refer to the "New Partyization" of the "KMT: the top has fallen into the hands of the bitter enders!" they are complaining. The Bitter Enders, the non-mainstream faction, have at long last defeated the mainstream localization crowd. Hung is their darling.

Hung was not denying the existence of the ROC. Instead, Hung was speaking in code to this die-hard group of Deep Deep Blues, among whom she has rock star status. Hung is like a conservative Pope who wants to return the Church to Latin Mass and hairshirt vests: such a pope would not be welcomed in most places, but a segment of the Church would adore him. If such a Pope said: "Does the Catholic Church even exist?" everyone would grasp his meaning. So it is with Hung: that die-hard wing of the Party has been energized by her. They know what she meant.

Remember, for Hung's more-KMT-than-the-KMT wing of the KMT, ideological purity is everything. Saying the "ROC doesn't exist" is not a statement of fact, but is a criticism of light Blues for not being ROC enough, and of Taiwan in general for not living up to her pure standards. She's speaking in code to her fellow Deep Blue ROC die-hards, saying "Taiwan is the land of the fallen" and in Taiwan, the ROC has strayed from the One True Path of Return to China. Does it really even exist anymore?

Thus Ma says that Hung and his policies are "consistent". He too is speaking for insiders: the consistency does not lie in a "policy" which is for outsiders who understand nothing, anyway, and may be safely bamboozled, but in fact averring for insiders that he and Hung are of one mind where their social identity is concerned. Ma's claim that he is "Taiwanese" was just the KMT version of the Pauline exhortation to be all things to all men, in order to make the cause victorious. That was Ma's sacrifice for the Sacred Cause. Hung does not make such tawdry offerings: for her, purity is everything.

This crowd is terrifying. They are watching the factions leave, and really, they don't care, because those people are all Spawn-of-Satan Taiwanese anyway, inferior to True Believer and True Chinese ROCers. Reality means nothing to this kind of mind, ideological purity and social identity are what counts. When they lose, as is inevitable, they will not explain the defeat by reference to some reality like their own incompetence or demographic change or poor policy choices. Rather, since they represent everything that is good in the world, it can only be the operation of evil that defeated them: they will explain their loss via conspiracy.

I can't wait.
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an angry taiwanese said...

Your analysis marvelously decodes the message in Hung saying 'I can't say that the ROC exists'. It makes me think further.

She sounds similar to Sun Yat-sen when he lost powers in the new China because of his hypocrisy and extremism. He became nobody in south China soon after 1911.

So He sent a young opportunist, named Chiang Kai-shek, whose Triad-career in Shanghai was not prosperous, to work together with Soviet and Chinese Communists to create a military base (黃埔軍校) so they, the True Revolutionary Nationalists, can get KMT and ROC back and make them right and true again. That was year 1924.

Lesson for us? History repeats itself. That small communist-created military base evolved into today's 陸軍官校(Republic of China Military Academy). It is where the True Revolutionary Nationalists send their boys to. Some from it definitely heard Hung's message and were energized.

d said...

Still trying to parse your point, Avignon references, etc. but I think I get it.

However, is it possible they they are just a bunch of incompetent idiots with no particular sophistication or insider language?

Anonymous said...

If they say they're Taiwanese as a sop, then why wouldn't they also use the name of the Republic of China as one, too?

If they consider "One China, One Interpretation" as an upgrade to "One China, Different Interpretations," then why wouldn't they also consider the People's Republic of China as an upgrade to the Republic of China?

Anonymous said...

Here is another slightly off-topic thought, when Hung mentions that she will not take any funds from the KMT for campaigning, perhaps it is because she is getting funded under the table by the PRC/CCP?

Greg Hao said...

Thanks for the fantastic Avignon analogy, I was furiously scratching my head when I first read Hung's comments as it made no sense to me!

Anonymous said...

To continue with the analogy, since "catholic" means "universal," then if there are two popes, there cannot be a universal church (= one China), at least not under a single pontiff (Chinese state). Of course each pope would say that there is only one true pope, namely himself, and call his rival an anti-pope. Conceivably one of them might have thrown up his hands and say, "Okay, I'm NOT Catholic, but the leader of an independent local church," though this anticipates historical developments by a smidge.

What Hung seems to be endorsing is the equivalent of catholicity as understood by Episcopalians, a rather nebulous concept that comes up in ecumenical dialogue and, perhaps, internal disputes. Her Republic of China seems not to inhere in any concrete body, but is a spiritual reality which terrestrial governments can only approach, and never fully embody.

les said...

I fully expect the KMT far-right to be back on the street after they lose, baying for blood again.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, your post sounded like a crazy rant of a conspiracy theorist to me at first. But after seeing how the blue accuse the media of taking her sentence out of context and attempt to explain the "context" of her sentence, I realize that you are right and spot on.